More Students Will Qualify for Federal Student Aid on October 1, and It's a Big Win for Students and Families

Short-term changes to the financial aid application process — and longer term financial aid program changes — are coming to help more students access the funds they need to attend college.

September 24, 2021 — The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — an application nearly 18 million prospective and current college students complete each year to determine their eligibility for federal need-based financial aid — will become available for the 2022-23 academic year one week from today, on Oct 1.

Over the past many years, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) has supported efforts to enhance FAFSA efficiency and equity, and has long called for the elimination of questions not directly relevant to financial aid eligibility, such as those relating to drug offenses and Selective Service registration. 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 authorized significant changes to federal student aid policy, including simplifying the FAFSA, expanding Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students, and the repeal of limitations on subsidized loan eligibility for undergraduate Direct Loans. While the bulk of these measures won’t take place until the 2024-25 FAFSA cycle, students and families will experience some important changes starting this October with the 2022-23 FAFSA:

  • Failing to register with the Selective Service Administration will no longer affect a student’s Title IV federal student aid eligibility.

  • Having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV student aid will no longer affect a student’s Title IV aid eligibility. 

    • The drug eligibility question that appeared on previous versions of the FAFSA will be revised to include guidance for the new law regarding eligibility for Federal Student Aid with a drug offense. Two sentences will be added to the end of the question that read: “A recently passed law means that you are now eligible for federal student aid even if you have been convicted for the sale or possession of illegal drugs while receiving federal student aid. No further action is required.” 

“These changes are good news for students and families, and they cannot move soon enough,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “These are stopgaps as our federal colleagues work on an entire FAFSA overhaul that will be simpler for students. If students find themselves confused by any of these changes, they should reach out to their school’s financial aid office.” 

NASFAA has spokespeople available to speak to the implications of these changes for the 2022-23 financial aid cycle, as well as the implementation of the FAFSA simplification, need analysis, and Federal Pell Grant eligibility measures applicants can expect to see on the 2024-25 FAFSA. To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson about findings contained in this report, please email Director of Marketing and Communications Erin Powers.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) provides professional development for financial aid administrators; advocates for public policies that increase student access and success; serves as a forum on student financial aid issues; and is committed to diversity throughout all activities. NASFAA’s membership includes 22,000 student financial assistance professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. 

Publication Date: 9/24/2021

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